3 life hacks to increase brain efficiency

Most of you know that getting enough sleep, eating the right food and working out is good for your body and brain. It also gives you more energy throughout the day. But there are other less known ways to increase your efficiency and boost your brain. Here’s three of them.

Stop multitasking

First of all, there is really no such thing as multitasking. Instead it’s your brain rapidly switching back and forth between tasks. It would maybe make more sense to call it serial tasking or task switching.

The idea of multitasking is to do to several tasks at once to save time and energy. Which, in theory, sounds like a good idea. The only problem is your brain isn’t very good at it. Every time it has to stop and restart a task, it loses time. And so it takes more time total to finish two tasks simultaneously than it takes to finish the tasks one after the other. Research published by the American Psychological Association suggest that multitasking reduces productivity by up to 40%!

So how do you deal with this problem? Just focus on one task at the time and make sure you finish it before you move onto something else. Writing tasks down and then crossing them out once you’re done is a very good tip!

Take a break

This is probably the easiest way to increase your brain efficiency. A study in the journal Cognition showed that people can maintain their focus or vigilance much longer when their brains are given something else to think about every 20 minutes.

The reason for this is that when you’re focused on one single task over a period of time, you use the same neural network over and over and it makes your brain fatigued. So taking a break and focusing on something else will let the neural network you just used get break. Now, it doesn’t have to be a long break. It can be anywhere between 10 seconds to 3-4 minutes. The best way to let your brain rest and recharge is to move your body, do a quick exercise and increase your brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).

Think of BDNF as a high performance protein powder that helps you build muscles at the gym, but for your brain cells. Instead of it influencing the size of your biceps it influences the quality and quantity of your brain cells. Your brain pumps out a series of neurotrophins, which is a family of proteins that are involved in making neurons. Without it you cannot make new brain cells, and without brain cells, well. You get the point.

BDNF is also integral to the function of your peripheral nervous system which is directly linked to your spine. Your peripheral nervous system controls your voluntary actions such as walking but also your involuntary actions such as breathing. Essentially the peripheral nervous system is your body’s way of getting around in the world. Low levels of BDNF are also linked to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease. So take a break, move your body and feel your depleted BDNF get restocked!

Clean up

Have you ever noticed that it’s hard to think clearly or get any work done when your house or office is a mess and there’s clutter everywhere?
Clutter drains attention, focus, and concentration out of your head. It overloads your brain and destroys its ability to think clearly.

A study from The National Center for Biotechnology Information used MRIs and other diagnostic tools to see the brain’s reactions to organized and disorganized stimuli. The findings are clear: Clutter significantly decreases your brain’s ability to focus.

Every piece of clutter seems to fight for your attention. For your brain that’s as if 50 different things were screaming at it and demanding attention.

The best way to fight this is to get rid of unnecessary clutter and clean up your space. Remember that every piece of clutter sucks a little bit of attention out of your brain. The more you clean, the better you’ll be able to pay attention, get work done and be more efficient.